Thursday, June 28, 2012

Schooling the Older Adopted Child

I wanted to do a post about what kind of school materials have worked for us with our 11 year old – newly arrived home from China.  While all kids are different, and Jenny appears to be a quick learner, we’ve discovered some strategies that we believe have added to her enthusiasm for learning.  

Our younger daughter began in K5 – a perfect starting place for and adopted child.  But Jenny was placed in 3rd grade at 11 years old (as far back as I could put her) and while she learned much about American culture, she spent most of the day unable to understand the discussions.  Her ESOL teacher was fabulous, and helped with some rudimentary knowledge such as days of the week, basic conversation, weather, etc.  The daily immersion in English was good for both girls and gave the home girls some needed respite from the big changes in their lives. 

In the early days home, I hired a teen girl to work with the girls on their homework and basic phonics.  The best tools early in were:

·      Bob Books
·      Alphabet flashcards
·      First Words flashcards (most on iPad)
·      Various Youtube songs for days of the week, shapes, months, and other preschool items.
·      BJU Press Handwriting Videos

At the end of the school year (total of 3 months in school), we determined that Jenny would be homeschooled because of her various level needs, while Sarah was close enough to the K5 spread at 7 years old to stay where she was for now – moving on to 1st grade.

We began homeschooling both girls this summer with BJU Press curriculum.  The BJU Press Videos are fun and interactive – and really grab their attention.  They expose the girls to much more than academics – they take virtual field trips to the post office, and other community locations, and talk about daily life with videos to help understand.   11 year old Jenny uses the following:

BJU Press:
·      Math 4 materials and video
·      Phonics and English 1: Composition, Phonics, Reading (skip handwriting)
·      Spelling 1
·      Handwriting 2 (cursive formation)
·      Bible 1

We will add science and history in the fall. 

Jenny is thriving with this material!  She is thrilled that she can understand the Bible 1 lessons by herself – the material is written in basic English for 1st graders, and she can clearly read the message!  There are also great stories about life application – specific to US family life – it’s just a perfect level for her to learn Bible.   The unit hymns teach her the basic songs she hears at Church.  I have her memorize her scripture in Chinese from her parallel Bible.  The charts and materials make it fun – it’s her favorite class!

We also watch Nestfamily Videos each night, and the girls are starting to recognize the Bible stories and even answer questions at Church.

The Handwriting 2 book was started midway at the cursive point, and she is thrilled with her ability to write – better than many American kiddos!  She used the videos, and I insisted on excellence – giving her great confidence when she met the standard.  Her handwriting is beautiful and something she was able to succeed at quickly vs. reading.

Phonics and English are terrific, and we are painstakingly going through each lesson, even though many are easy for her.  She needs the basics of punctuation, etc.  She is reading beyond many of the lessons, but needs the decoding work.  We’ll likely skim through 2nd grade and move right into 3rd.  Mrs. Walker is a master teacher, and I plan on using the 3rd grade reading video for her.  The composition prompts really have her “thinking through” her phonics, but I quickly spell words for her when it becomes too challenging.   I tell her that her goal is creativity.  It’s the perfect springboard for English instruction as well – look at the opportunities in the below pages! 

Math is BJU Press’s “crown jewel” and the manipulatives and critical thinking are HUGE for her.  She was taught rote memory based mathematics, and had no clear understanding of place value, etc.  This is BJU Press’s strong point.  She needs me to help her develop strategies for deciphering the higher level word problems – and the video instructs her to pinpoint specific words – perfect for the ESL student!  She absolutely loves the video presentation and feels more confident as she works independently.  When she doesn’t catch something, she’s able to rewind, or can figure it out from the visual images!  We are loving distance learning for her!

When she finishes for the day - she's off to the swimming pool - hence the bathing suit pics!  I hope this multi-level approach is helpful for someone – it has made our daughter excited about learning, gives her milestones that she’s able to complete each day, and does not feel too juvenile for her at all. (my worry)  She loves the little crafts since she never had those in her younger years.  If you have any questions or stories of what works of your own – please post!  Blessings, Kim

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Friends in Wuhan!!!

I have a friend who is in Wuhan currently and adopting her son!  It makes me reminisce a bit as we really enjoyed Wuhan - ESPECIALLY the Aloha Diner!! Here's the link for those interested - how exciting!!

They're a precious family and everything is going so well - I'm so happy for them.  Blessings, Kim

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Welcome to America!

Today was a "Welcome to America" party for Jenny and Sarah - hosted by my mom and her neighbors - all "Martha Stewarts" in their own right.   The poolhouse was turned into a Patriotic buffet of kiddie delights including a popcorn machine, finger foods and snacks.

The girls each had their own "Welcome cookie cakes" (with American Girl dolls hidden behind them)

And their own watermelon fruit boats at each end of the table

To say they were thrilled was an understatement!  Mary M. introduced the girls to everyone and then they received many gifts and their American Girl dolls: "Ivy Ling" (a tomboy for Jenny) and "Emily" who has red hair and the same name as Sarah's favorite teen English tutor (also with red hair) - Emily J.  Jenny loved the Chinese "Jesus Loves You" necklace from Carrie - thank you so much for that keepsake, Carrie!

The girls and I are sporting the $5 Old Navy tees - get them now adoptive families for your homecoming pics!

Cousins Connor and Cole were big helps setting up - there were welcome posters for all the guests to sign and red, white, and blue balloons everywhere!  The girls were THRILLED with all their friends and family coming together and letting them know how happy we are to have them!  We had to delay the party because of my injury, and it worked out so well - the girls understood what it was all about and were familiar with all the guests - they were overjoyed with the attention and excitement!

Advocates Annie and Angie showed up - after a grueling morning garage sale - the girls were thrilled to see their kiddos - and it was the first time I've seen my friends since my "forced captivity" with my achilles rupture.  LOVE these girls - thanks so much for coming at the end of a long day!

Chelsea and her crew were there (Asher always makes me smile!), Amy P., Carrie W., Marie and family, Dorita and Tiffany, Carolyn W., Erika, and finally Kimmi Brown and the Wilkins topped off the day to make it a list of all my favorite peeps - LOVE you all!  I was happier to see everyone than the girls!

And finally - all the wonderful ladies that worked so hard to make a magical day for our girls:  THANK YOU, Mary, Sue, Pat, Cindy, Barbie, and Mom for making memories for a lifetime for Jenny and Sarah!!

Jenny and all the girls - including Rachel - keep telling me "how happy" they are tonight - over and over.

Better late than never - these girls know how cherished and special they are - not only to us but to all of you.  Every girl should know this - and these two do.  Jenny told me that she can't believe how many people love them already.  Thank you for giving them that gift.  Love, Kim

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Getting back to normal...

When the toenails get painted, you know things are getting back to normal!  Physical Therapy started for my ankle - and I'm making some progress.  No walking for a few more weeks, but at least I'm able to bear some weight on the foot.

The girls continue to do well and we are homeschooling through the summer.  The novelty has worn off and now it's pure work - not something they look forward to - but something that must get done each morning.  Jenny is doing 4th grade Math online with BJU Press, and I'm working both girls through 1st grade reading, phonics, and spelling.  I especially like the compositions they write each morning -what a keepsake they'll be some day!

Sarah continues to be critical of her sisters and lazy with helping - so the hammer came down this week.  She prefers the boss lady job - which doesn't fly as the youngest and least willing.  Jenny has come full circle and is an incredibly diligent and conscientious child - but also likes to point out the deficiencies of Sarah - so we're working on that.  Both girls couldn't be more different - leading to constant arguments - but they're both wonderful in their own special ways.  We just need them to see that in each other!

I am learning to slow down and listen to God.  I am realizing how weak I really am - and how strong God is.  I am learning that God has a very low priority in my daily life - and busy-ness is what has become an idol for me. This injury and "imprisonment" may work out for my deliverance - as Paul so aptly put it. :) 

Thanking God for his provision and training in my life.  Blessings, Kim

Sunday, June 3, 2012

3 Months - Lazy Days of Summer

The girls are home 3 months now, and they're speaking entirely English - even to Chinese friends.  Jenny will sometimes get her Chinese confused - which means she's thinking in English now.  I remember that transition when learning Hebrew - it's a befuddled place to be - but a place where real gains start.

Jenny and Sarah still bicker - they are very different, and very STRONG personalities.  They love each other already, however, and are the first to come to the other's defense from any perceived slight on the bus, etc.  They both finished school this week and enjoyed their classes very much.  We had nothing but positive input from their teachers - and both girls learn easily.  Sarah is much more interested in non-academic pursuits and mostly avoids any type of work entirely.  We attached her upcoming season of three dance classes to her willingness to cheerfully help her sisters instead of disappearing or pretending not to hear when there are things to be done.  That seems to have hit the spot.  She told me that her foster mama did everything for her.  Too bad, so sad, but things are different here. :)  She's always happy and cheerful - and a real joy to be around.

Jenny is diligent about school and wants to do anything and everything to catch up.  She is easy to teach - but does get tired after reading a lot.  She is working hard on not interrupting others - something I didn't master till this year, lol!  She is SO excited about homeschooling next year and asked me to order her a homeschool shirt like her sisters.  Sarah is excited about her best friend and neighbor being in her class at school where she will continue to get ESOL help. 

There are no urgent medical appointments with this adoption, (except mine) no rush heart surgeries, no attachment issues and bonding difficulties - just the increased activity level of now 6 very active and enthusiastic kids.  My leg is healing slowly but surely, and we're becoming used to the new normal of a home bound mama and big brothers doing all the errands, shopping, and chauffering.  They are wonderful.

Rachel scored outstanding in Columbia at the State Piano competition and continues to dance.  She is Sarah's hero and they have similar interests.  Rachel is much more temperate in personality, however, so I'm glad that Sarah is mimicking her.

Katie and Jenny are the sports women - Katie is a strong swimmer and Jenny has yet to find her talents - but is interested in soccer and running.  It's interesting that despite teasing from other children occasionally, Jenny has no insecurities about her ear - often choosing hair accessories that allow it to be seen.  I think it's wonderful that she's secure in her skin - and Sarah also feels no anxiety about her eye.  This was not the case when they first arrived - this is a big change for both.  Sarah burst out with, "Mom, I LOVE America!"  the other day, and constantly tells me how much she loves me.  Both girls are interested in visiting their foster families again in the future and both have happy memories of China.  It feels like they have always been here - and I can't imagine our family without them.  We are so blessed.

Thank you for the prayers over the last year - and I am praying for those of you still in the process.  May you be blessed even more than we have been.  Love, Kim

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21